The Hack: Excuses not sitting well with cricket fans

It’s safe to say that the excuse offered in the wake of the Proteas’ failed mission to the Caribbean is not sitting well with lovers of South African cricket.

The idea that some players are maybe biting off more than they can chew with their participation in a number of lucrative leagues across the world doesn’t really sit well with me either.

In fact, all it does, at least in my opinion, is highlight a growing chasm in what might be a club versus country debate.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not begrudging any of the players the opportunity to earn a substantial living but there are always going to be some quarters who are unhappy that players turn it on when playing for various franchises but then don’t do much while playing in a Proteas jersey.

Look at the abuse England’s football side got this week as a result of their embarrassing exit at the European Championships at the hands of Iceland. Their fans are fuming that a group of guys who earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a week for their clubs can perform so badly when it comes to representing their country.

There’s going to come a time when players need to make their intentions clear. Do they want to become T20 mercenaries or are they going to focus on getting South Africa’s cricket side’s back to the top of the various rankings?

I get that it’s tough for Cricket South Africa to try and limit the number of contracts players can sign outside of national duty. The fact that the exchange rate works against them doesn’t help either.

But something must be done. Was it really necessary for AB de Villiers to sign on the dotted line for the Caribbean Premier League knowing full well that from August when New Zealand visit for two Tests it’s full systems go right through to the Champions Trophy next year?

Perhaps CSA needs to look at taking a leaf out of rugby’s book and look at awarding national squad berths to players who reserve most of their playing time to their domestic franchises at home.

If you think about it, the proliferation of the various T20 leagues hasn’t done our domestic competitions, especially the Ram Slam T20, any favours with a lot of our senior stars opting to rather chase the big money offers in the Big Bash.

That is set to change with the rescheduling of the local tournament in an effort to try and lure the big name players to play for South African franchises.

Is the criticism of the national side warranted after the triangular series warranted? Absolutely. Does the excuse about heavy workloads solve anything? Not really. National duty needs to take priority over making money.

What must be remembered is that it’s about the badge on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back.

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